Martin MacNeill cuts self with razor in apparent suicide attempt

Ex-doctor's attempt is 'cop out,' not remorse, sister-in-law says

Published: Friday, Dec. 6 2013 6:15 p.m. MST

Martin MacNeill winks at members of his defense team as he arrives in court for the reading of the verdict. MacNeill was found guilty of murder and obstruction of justice early Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013.

Scott Sommerdorf

SPANISH FORK — Martin MacNeill, a former doctor convicted last month of murdering his wife in 2007, attempted suicide in his cell at the Utah County Jail Thursday by cutting himself with a disposable razor, according to deputies.

MacNeill, 57, was discovered during routine checks at the jail. He had dismantled a disposable razor that he was issued and cut his leg and a femoral artery. When deputies found him, he "was unhappy he was interrupted" in his apparent suicide attempt and "not cooperative with treatment efforts," said Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon.

MacNeill was taken by ambulance to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo. Cannon said MacNeill would spend at least one night in the hospital and possibly remain there for a couple of days.

The incident began about 5:30 p.m. Thursday shortly after MacNeill was issued a disposable razor for shaving. Inmates who qualify to have such an item are given a razor to shave and then it is collected back about 15 minutes later, Cannon said.

In no more than 15 minutes, MacNeill took his razor apart and used it to cut himself, Cannon said. Cannon declined to comment about whether deputies found any other evidence in his cell, such as a suicide note.

MacNeill was convicted Nov. 9 of murder and obstruction of justice in the death of his wife, Michele MacNeill, 50. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 7 and potentially could spend the rest of his life in prison. MacNeill is also scheduled to stand trial in February in a separate sex abuse case.

One of MacNeill's daughters, Alexis Somers, released a brief statement Friday, saying: "Our lives have already been torn apart. We do not pretend to understand the senseless, distressful and hurtful actions of our father."

Michele MacNeill's sister, Linda Cluff, however, believes her brother-in-law is finally realizing that he will spend the rest of his life in prison, and was looking for an easy way out.

"It is a cop-out. I believe that it is not about remorse for any actions that Martin did. I believe that he is incapable of feeling remorse. He has put himself in this situation and he is realizing that there is the great possibility that he may spend his life in prison," she said Friday. "This is not a shock. It's just a another (portrayal) or who Martin really is."

Cluff said the suicide attempt was more about MacNeill feeling sorry for himself.

"The first thing I thought (when I heard about the suicide attempt) was, 'He can't stand this,'" she said. "I'm glad that he survived. I want him to see what it's like in prison.

"I would like to see him face life behind bars because that's more justice to me, because he'll have to face what goes on behind the prison walls, which to me is a harsher penalty," Cluff said.

MacNeill's defense attorney, Susanne Gustin, said neither she nor co-counsel Randy Spencer had seen any signs that would cause them concern since he was convicted.

"Randy and I are really shocked and saddened by this. Randy saw him (Thursday afternoon) and he seemed to be doing fine. He seemed kind of upbeat. So it came as quite a surprise," she said. "Obviously in any case like this, it's always in the back of your mind, in a big murder case like this, that someone may kill themselves. We weren't concerned about any overt signs or anything that would trigger us to let the jail know he would take his life."

Gustin said she and Spencer attempted to visit their client at the hospital on Thursday but were not allowed.

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